So, you’re a manager, and you have an employee that has a bad attitude. Meaning they are negative, play the victim, and they often behave badly. But—they do their actual job pretty well. So it’s really hard to manage them on their behaviour, and you are not sure what to do.

This scenario is common. Dealing with employees who meet all their KPIs but whose attitude sucks is a significant business challenge. Here we offer some good insights for this situation.

How do you address inappropriate behaviour in the workplace?

Make notes on specific times when the employee displays inappropriate behaviours. Detail why these behaviours are not acceptable.

Then you need to raise these issues with the employee in a kind, professional and honest way. Immediately.

It’s also helpful if you:

  • have·explicit values within your business, and
  • have· already defined acceptable and unacceptable behaviours in a meaningful way.

Then you can use this as the context for your feedback.

For example, someone is behaving in a way that only concerns themselves and is reluctant to work within a team. In that case, you would remind them that teamwork is a core value. You would say it is unacceptable for this person to not want to work with others. This way the feedback about their poor behaviour now has context and meaning.

What if they don’t improve?

If the behaviour continues then you may need to escalate to either a Performance Improvement Plan. This is where you set out all the unacceptable behaviours and set clear expectations. You would then provide coaching and feedback to help them improve. Always provide examples—this gives context.

If this approach is not working you may escalate to a formal written warning, and or termination.

Hot tips to manage someone behaving badly

  • Record, Record, Record!
  • Stick to the facts—be very specific
  • Don’t make it personal
  • Don’t back down if it gets tough. Remember: you are the manager and in control
  • The intention is always to improve performance
  • Give examples and context.

Does this classic case sound familiar?

A high-performing salesperson in a real estate business was displaying inappropriate behaviours and attitudes. They thought they were a protected species due to their financial results.

But they were rubbing their colleagues up the wrong way. Even clients were complaining about this person’s behaviour.

They were pushy, brash and arrogant to the point of being sociopathic. You might even go as far as saying this person had a ‘God complex’. They worked whatever hours they wanted, skipped team meetings and compulsory training did not complete the CRM system information and ignored company processes altogether. They had worked at the company for eight years and had been allowed to get away with this behaviour for that entire time.

The more successful they became, the worse their behaviour got.

So, what steps did HR Gurus take?

  1. We helped the manager to document all instances of inappropriate behaviour and tie it back to the company values.
  2. We helped the manager have a constructive conversation with the employee. They gave the employee feedback, allowing them the opportunity to respond, then making it very clear that their behaviour was unacceptable, and that it needed to change.
  3. We also set out what is expected.

Not surprisingly the behaviour did not change. So we had to escalate to a conduct counselling meeting and we then had to give the employee a warning.

The saga continues, but it looks like the employee will resign which is probably best for all parties involved.

If you need help managing difficult attitude problems in your workplace then contact HR Gurus today.

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